Big Match Focus: Liverpool v Leicester City

By Patric Ridge 3 October 2019 55
Big Match Focus: Liverpool v Leicester City

Two of the Premier League's form sides face off on Saturday, as Liverpool welcome Leicester City, along with their former manager Brendan Rodgers, to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's side may have narrowly missed out to Manchester City in the title race last season, but already hold a five-point advantage over the defending champions after seven games.

The Reds have won all of their league outings so far, though you expect they will have to be better than they were against Sheffield United last time out if they are to defeat a Leicester side that is going from strength to strength under Rodgers.

Leicester – tipped before the season started as genuine top-six contenders following a strong end to 2018-19 – have won four of their last five matches, with their only defeat of the campaign coming at Old Trafford.

A 5-0 demolition of 10-man Newcastle United last weekend followed on from a hard-fought, if slightly fortuitous, win over Tottenham and the question now is whether Leicester can prove their credentials for a top-six finish, if not better, against the European champions.

 

RODGERS RETURNS TO MERSEYSIDE

This match will be Rodgers' first trip back to Anfield since he was sacked by Liverpool in October 2015.

The former Swansea City boss almost led Liverpool to the league title in 2013-14, but City pipped them to the post after a number of big moments went against the Reds.

Since Rodgers took over at Leicester following the dismissal of predecessor Claude Puel, only City and Liverpool have won more Premier League points than the Foxes' haul of 31.

Klopp, of course, took charge at Anfield after Rodgers had left, with Liverpool – under his stewardship – returning back to the top table of European football and competing for the league title on a consistent basis.

While Rodgers will be keen to prove himself to Liverpool all over again, this time by inflicting their first defeat of the season, Leicester's best efforts may not be enough if Klopp's men – who have won 16 league games in a row – play close to their full capability.

Rodgers - cropped

HEAD TO HEAD: SADIO MANE V JAMIE VARDY

Sadio Mane shared last season's Golden Boot with team-mate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Senegal international has kept up his sparkling form.

With four goals already this season, Mane needs one more to bring up his 50th in the league for Liverpool in what would be his 100th appearance for the club.

But Leicester have a fearsome forward of their own in the form of Jamie Vardy, who has started the season in style with five goals.

Vardy has relished playing against Liverpool in the past, with only Andrew Cole and Thierry Henry scoring more times against them in the Premier League than Leicester's number nine.

The 32-year-old averages a goal every 126 minutes, ever-so-slightly better than Mane's effort of 129.5 minutes per goal and since the start of 2010-11 only Sergio Aguero has a better minutes per goal ratio against the 'big six' than Vardy, while he has also converted 50 per cent of six big chances created for him this term.

In comparison, Mane's big-chance conversion percentage is 33.3, though the ex-Southampton forward has created 12 opportunities for his team-mates, albeit only resulting in one assist.

Both players have had 34 touches in the opposition box so far and have each managed seven shots on target, though Mane has completed nine dribbles compared to Vardy's zero.

Mane - cropped

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool's current run of 16 consecutive Premier League victories is the second longest in English top-flight history, bettered only by City between August and December 2017, when Pep Guardiola's side won 18 matches in a row.

While Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 43 home league games, Leicester have been in indifferent form on the road so far this season, though they have played both Manchester United and Chelsea, losing at Old Trafford but drawing at Stamford Bridge.

Their one away win came at Bramall Lane, where Liverpool laboured to a 1-0 victory last time out thanks to Dean Henderson's howler.

It was possibly the least convincing display from the Reds so far this season, with Klopp's side having been mightily impressive on the whole, defeating both Arsenal and Chelsea.

However, they had only managed to keep one clean sheet prior to Saturday's win in Sheffield, with Leicester sure to test Virgil van Dijk and co at the back.

Liverpool - cropped

HISTORY SAYS…

The Reds are unbeaten in their last 43 home league games, which is the longest ongoing run in the top five European leagues, and Liverpool's second longest in the top flight. 

Coincidently, their previous best of 63 between February 1978 and December 1980 was eventually ended by Leicester.

But the good omens end there for Leicester, who have not beat Liverpool in their last eight trips to Anfield in the Premier League since a 2-0 win in May 2000.

Leicester have lost 11 of their last 13 Premier League games against sides starting the day top of the table, with their last such victory coming in January 1998.

Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson is the only manager to have previously managed the Reds in the Premier League and won away against them in the competition.

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